>Bad experiences with Good Energy

>I rue the day that I ever signed up with the eco-electricity company Good Energy, whose major selling point – backed ads in The Guardian and The Independent and various ethical shopper recommendations – is, far so, the only UK electricity provider to offer 100% renewable electricity. They are pretty expensive – having hiked prices about a year ago to match the rising cost of carbon generated electricity which (apparently) sets the market rate – but the real fly in the ointment, as discovered, is their atrocious customer service. The unspoken assumption seems to be that environmentally minded consumers willing to pay a small premium will put with anything to combat global warming.

It all started in September when I realised that we had been misreading our old fashioned four dial electricity meter. I tried to contact the Good Energy and quickly discovered that their customer enquiry line is never answered in person only by a recorded message asking callers to leave details and a promise to call back. Calls were returned but only after a delay of two or three days (sometimes longer) and invariably when I was out. As the ‘customer operatives’ left no direct number I was back at square one.

I finally emailed Good Energy at their enquiries email address, got no reply for a week, emailed again, did receive a reply and, hallelujah, a customer service agent telephoned me at a time when I was actually at home. They agreed to take a ‘verified reading’ on 20 explaining helpfully earlier readings would have been automatically adjusted at a computer centre to fit earlier customer reading and so any discrepancy would not automatically come to light.

A meter reader duly came (although not on the day agreed) and explained that, yes, our meter had indeed been misread and “a real stinker”. The correct reading was about 2000kw/h lower – about three month’s consumption – we had thought. Naively, I thought Good Energy would quickly sort things out re-bill. How green I was and not just in the ecological sense. I heard bugger from all from Good Energy, so five weeks later. I finally emailed them and received a reply from a Katie Smith say that she had located the reading of 16 October, would get it be validated and a new bill issued. Two days later I duly got a bill, which made no reference to the verified meter reading just an estimated reading based on the earlier incorrect figure.

So I then emailed Good Energy again on 4 December and four days later received an email response (sent 8 December 2006 by a Vicky Breydin) saying – without any additional explanation – that she had ‘been asked’ to arrange another verified reading and asking that I telephone to arrange this! Knowing their dud customer unfriendly enquiries line, I emailed back asking them to contact me, if possible by email and also asked just why-oh- why for Climate Change’s sake they needed to another ‘verified reading’. Was the first one wrong? Taking a leaf from George H.W. Bush, I also decided to draw a line in the sand so gave them two weeks to sort the mess out. Predictably, three weeks later …. no response whatsoever.

I guess the next stage to write a formal letter of complaint to the company and probably also complain regulator-cum-consumer watchdog EnergyWatch. I’ll certainly have to move to some green but halfway efficient alternative, but I’m starting to wonder if I will ever escape the clutches of Bad Energy. It’s hard not to think they are deliberately prevaricating to hang on to my money.

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